Thursday, October 16, 2008

Contest Watch: Week of October 9

Another zero-update week this week, but I am working on a Halloween post that took longer than I anticipated (check that out tomorrow), as well as something fun for any Wooters who grabbed their latest random offer this morning, so I plead innocence. For today, some prize pumpkins I'd love to see succeed at the fair.

One of my favorite designers, if not most successful, is one Mr. Edgar R. McHerly. His brain is an amazing, intriguing place, and I quite want more people to get well acquainted with it. Needless to say, I was excited this week when I noticed he was opening the floodgates, submitting all manner of new work to Design By Humans, Threadless, Uneetee... pretty much anywhere with a contest got an influx of Edgar, and I am all for it. The true standout, though, was submit to a young site I just recently found out about, Bad As Hell Clothing, who contrary to their name have some very solid work already, as well as a number of entries in the running that look very sweet. One of which is an Edgar... "...Excuse Me." The colors work ideally, especially the stark white of the egg and shell, while also allowing the shirt itself to do a lot of lifting, and the linework on the body is quite well-done, and contrasts well with the simpler, imaginative elements in the head. The gem in this one, though, is the banana peel, begging the eggman's pardon for being in his way. It's a quick jab of a morbid joke, and a smart addition to an already quality shirt-to-be. I wish it luck, and hope the site moves plenty of product if they print it.

While I got to stumble on a new site with Edgar, I put much more effort into perusing Design by Humans, as it came up short last week. I decided to scan through the entries right down past the beginning of Halloweek, to make sure I didn't miss anything. I stumbled on a couple nice ones, but was struck by a fairly simple piece: "Constellations and Mountains," by Minnow. I've long found constellations intriguing, from the invisible lines of stars to the shapes these lines allegedly evoke. As such, I love how this is rendered, with subtle colors against a far darker background shirt, the representation of the shine of the stars and clearly hand-drawn shading. I enjoy the vignette feel of each square... the imperfect photo-frames, the way the mountains flow between frames, yet allow each piece to stand alone. The filigree behind the squares is admittedly useless, but subtle enough that it is not harmful. I feel this is a victim of placement, though... the chest placement suggested just isn't ideal. I think lower, offcenter with just a slight bit of wrap-around, this could be much better. The designer claims to be working on a resub, but I don't know that it needs it... if enough people like it how it is, placement is no difficult change. I'm hoping to bring those people to it... there's always room for a subtle, tasteful shirt.

Another winner (to me) from the DBH is "Back and To the Left" by ninthWHEEL. The concept is a good one... air traffic control for birds... but the details really rock my world. Once again, it's a muted palette, something I apparently am quite fond of. The bird is great alone, but the helmet and tubes modifying it capture the imagination... it's as if this is a small part of a much larger alternate world, and if it looks this cool, I want to know more. The branch itself has some great texture, and almost looks more like an antler, which is a little odd, yet quite pleasing to my eye. Even the size is perfect. There are plenty of proponents of smaller prints, but this one truly inhabits the shirt at its size. I think the number of different elements, along with the thin yet canvas-sweeping shape of the branch, keep it from being overpowering.

Threadless kept the huge-prints going strong for me, as well, though this next one doesn't hold back on its colors. "HEART ATTACK!" is a collaborative effort by FRICKINAWESOME and Kooky Love, and the most appropriate shirt I could possibly review while eating delicious brownies. It's a perfect mix of B-grade Sci-Fi and outlandish war comics, and the graphic looks right at home on the pulps, but it looks stellar on a shirt as well. The colors, as mentioned before, are bold and often bright, and every last element is placed perfectly... the heart is hanging around about where the heart would be in one's own body, its robotic claw arteries are writhing about everywhere they should be, and the war elements are all so spot-on parodied, you could swear you've seen the illustration before (right down to the one army dude in the corner, facing the viewer. There always seems to be one, doesn't there?). For someone who sports at least one X on his shirt tag (brand depending), it may leave you open to barbs, but nevertheless I would totally wear this one with pride, whether or not I was gorging on a bloomin' onion at the time. Definitely a design that I've grown more and more attached to as I've come back to it planning this post.

We close this week with more Threadless work, and a design that in words may seem trite based on my other reviews. Yet again, it's a big print. Yet again there's a subdued palette. That's not all there is to phillydesigner's "The Mouse Tamer," though. It is also about incredible charm and layers of concept. The image of the ringmaster taming the elephant is a common one. Making the ringmaster a mouse is adorable... like, serious aww-time style, playing off the old wives tale that elephants are afraid of mice. Making the elephant itself made of mice though? A final level of brilliance. It's hard to tell if the mice are but acrobats, like Pilobolus, or if there is some darker undertone, but the sheer artistic composition is undeniable, and who cares about undertone with a design clearly meant to be innocuous? I haven't bothered checking to see if all the mice are individually drawn, but there are plenty enough clearly unique ones to satisfy me enough to not care if all of them were. Seriously, that's a lot of mice... I think I can cut the designer some slack (though whatever the case, I'd be vastly intrigued to see the process on this one). I'd expect this one to go on sale, and then proceed to sell out speedily.

So there we have it for the week. Definitely check back throughout the weekend... I've got some hopefully interesting pieces planned that'll make the dearth of posts this week less of a tragedy.

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